As Black Awareness Month quickly approaches, the Eta Delta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., hosted their third annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratorical Competition Friday night.
Targeting high school male minorities, the competition aimed to improve public speaking skills and give the young men an appropriate setting in which to express themselves.
“A lot of these [students] do not finish high school; opportunities where they have a platform to express themselves and realize their potential are rare,” said junior Reginald Sainvil, a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha.
“It is our hope to inspire these disadvantaged young men to follow their dreams and to become better individuals in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King,” he said.
Along with assisting the participants in public speaking, the competition provides an opportunity to uplift young African American men.
“It’s important that we host this oratorical because it serves to empower our youth,” junior Sean Welsh said. “Many of the young men we reach out to through this particular event come from less than fortunate upbringings. In most cases they come from environments that don’t really foster a bright future.”
As a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha, King valued perseverance.
Participants Jason Gothelf, Paul Osei, Rodin Celindor, Andrew Ranglin and Alexander Rodriguez came from Miami-Dade and Broward counties, and used King’s perseverance as the topic for discussion. Each spoke about how they persevered through rough patches in their lives. Whether it was coming to America from another country or surviving a brain tumor, every student had a story.
“They seemed to be speaking from the heart,” junior Dara Collins said. “I thought the topic relayed back to Martin Luther King’s dream well. It is pivotal and important to remind people that MLK’s dream, although we are making strides, hasn’t been achieved yet and there’s still work to be done in all walks of life and for all different types of people.”
Although some had more heartfelt stories than others, the participants were judged on content and poise. In the end, Rodriguez was declared the winner of the competition and won a $500 scholarship. He hopes to become a pediatric neurologist after studying at Harvard.
Using the past two competitions as learning experiences, the fraternity began planning for this year’s event much earlier. They raised a considerable amount of money through sponsorships and reached out to more people, gaining more contestants than in the past.
In addition to making the competition available to the students, the chapter plans on building a mentorship with the young men. Hopes of future scholarships with companies such as College Board and Kaplan will offer discounts for the SAT and ACT. Their main focus is to help them become successful and make positive decisions.
“With this Oratorical Competition we hope to encourage theseyoung men to tap into their potential and use it for the greater good,” Welsh said. “We want to see them make it to college and be successful in life.”
Mikayla Vielot may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BAM Dates to Remember:
A Step in the Right Direction: The Wes Moore Story
4Tuesday at 7 p.m. BankUnited Center Hurricane 100 Room
Leading the Way: Mid-Way Kickoff
4Thursday at 12 p.m.-2 p.m. UC Patio
Bob Marley Day: Presented by Organization for Jamaican Unity
4Friday at 3 p.m. UC Patio
MLK Day of Service: Following in the Footsteps of a Dream
4Saturday at 10 a.m. UC Lower Lounge